In this masterclass session, crypto experts and skeptics delve into the world of Blockchain, crypto, and other emerging technologies. Experts featured include Emilie Choi, Chris Dixon, Paul Krugman, and Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.
THE TECHNOLOGIST – CHANGPENG ZHAO Founder and CEO, Binance
As a Chinese-born immigrant who grew up in Canada, Changpeng (widely known as CZ) once worked at the fast food chain McDonald’s to help support his family. Flipping burgers would eventually lead to flipping stocks, trading, and the launch of Binance—which in 2018 became the world’s largest crypto exchange (or online space for coin and token transactions) based on the volume of trades it facilitates daily.
Still, CZ sees crypto as more about global inclusion than trading. “This technology allows more freedom for its users,” he says.
LIFE BEFORE CRYPTO: Earned a computer science degree from McGill University in Montreal, then developed trading software for the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
KNOWN IN THE SPACE FOR: Binance, pro-crypto advocacy, and selling his apartment to buy bitcoin at roughly $600 per coin. (When the price sank below $200, he refused to walk away.) IN HIS WORDS:“Crypto is disruptive.”
The Pragmatist – Emile Choi, President and Chief Operating Officer, Coinbase
Emilie lives in Silicon Valley—a region of Northern California that’s considered the cradle of tech innovation— but feels that living there is no longer necessary. “What’s funny about crypto is that it is really a decentralized global movement,” she says. “You can be anywhere in the world and build whatever you want in crypto.”
As a top executive at Coinbase, a U.S.-based crypto exchange launched in 2012, Emilie believes that crypto can empower people by allowing for true ownership of a digital world. “These are new models,” she says.
“We don’t know exactly how they’re going to evolve, but we think they’re so powerful because they put control back in the hands of the individual.”
LIFE BEFORE CRYPTO: Senior or leadership roles at Warner Bros. Entertainment, ZipRecruiter, Yahoo!, and LinkedIn.
KNOWN IN THE SPACE FOR: Helping take Coinbase public with a listing on NASDAQ—a watershed moment for the mainstreaming of crypto. (NASDAQ is a U.S.-based digital marketplace for trading securities.)
IN HER WORDS: “Crypto is freedom.”
The Economist – Paul Krugman: Economist, writer, Nobel laureate
Paul has spent much of his career studying international economics— winning a Nobel Prize (a highly prestigious award given out to world luminaries annually) along the way—and he knows that the global financial system has problems. Is crypto the solution? Alas, the way he sees it, “crypto is mostly techno-babble.” For years, Paul has been in “many, many crypto discussions.” The question he always asks:
What problem does crypto solve? (“I still haven’t gotten an answer that I find persuasive,” he says. In class, Paul and CZ debate this question face-to-face.)
LIFE BEFORE (AND DURING) CRYPTO:
Scores of essays and newsletters for American newspaper of record The New York Times; professorship at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, among other institutions; author and editor credits on dozens of books, including 2020’s Arguing With Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future.
KNOWN IN THE SPACE FOR: Thoughtful skepticism.
IN HIS WORDS: “Crypto is, in a way, a step back to the 18th century.”
Chris Dixon – The Futurist : General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
Since launching a16z crypto—the web3 arm of American venture firm Andreessen Horowitz—in 2018, Chris has overseen investments in more than 45 companies, including Coinbase. A big part of his job? Predicting “where things will be in 5 to 10 years,” he says. Judging by the endeavors he has backed, crypto will be a major part of that future landscape.
LIFE BEFORE CRYPTO: Cofounded startups, including the online security service SiteAdvisor and the recommendations engine Hunch (both of which were acquired); invested in emerging tech like artificial intelligence and biohacking; invested early in BuzzFeed, Uber, and Venmo.
KNOWN IN THE SPACE FOR: Being the No. 1 crypto investor in the world, according to some financial pundits.
IN HIS WORDS: “Crypto is all about ownership.”
Blockchain vs Cryptocurrency
- Blockchain is the technology that powers cryptocurrency. While blockchain can be used without crypto, the two words are often used interchangeably.
Proof of Work
For bitcoin, under a system called Proof of Work, miners’ computers are working furiously to solve complicated math equations released by Bitcoin’s protocol—the rules embedded in its programming. (Computers tackle these equations autonomously; no human participation is required.) Every 10 minutes, the computer that solves these puzzles wins a prize of new bitcoin. This is how the currency is “mined.”
A Bitcoin block can hold upwards of 2,000 transactions.
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